Been to Hampton Court Flower Show this week? Watching coverage on the Beeb? What do you think?


Hampton Court is my second favourite RHS show after Tatton Park. The reason I put both ahead of Chelsea is the feeling of space, and the fact that you can buy plants and sundries as you move around the two shows.


Rainy weather made the Hampton Court floral marquee (above) the main draw for me, but even if the sun had been out, that’s where you would have found me – the majority of show gardens just lacked the colour fix I’m after this drab summer.


While I admired the hard landscaping and structural aspects among the show gardens, I was left feeling that designers are afraid of colour these days, with the majority of gardens hosting just one or two colours throughout their planting schemes.


A few years ago this restricted use of colour would have hit the spot for me, but since working at Amateur Gardening magazine, and getting to grow all our vibrant weekly free seeds, I’m all about using a patchwork of colour in bedding and border design these days.


I did get a colour fix from the stunning ‘public park’ style bedding display from Bournemouth Borough Council’s show entry, as well as another show garden that found a surprise place close to my heart.


Walking past the Work Rest and Play garden I was asked to come inside and have a play!

The feature has been designed as an outdoor environment for people with disabilities, in a collaboration between Oasthouse Nursery, Green Retreats and Knighton Electrical aiming to encourage everyone to get involved and enjoy the outdoors. It includes a wildlife area, education centre and allotment.

As I stepped in I was handed a button pad that controls jets in a water feature. All great fun, but it wasn’t until I was handed a leaflet about the garden that I took the design to heart.

After the show, the garden will be dismantled and re-installed at Milestone Academy in Kent, to be used by students aged from 2 to 19 with special needs.


Kent will always hold fond memories for me – I grew up there. As I looked at the leaflet more closely I saw that the school is based in the village where I grew up. I then realised it is the actual school that I attended between 1989 and 1992. Back then it was New Ash Green Middle School, since leaving, and the end of the three tier education system in Kent, it has been adapted and turned into the Milestone Academy.

As I told my story to the designers I was introduced to the headmistress who invited me to the academy later in the year to see the garden in it’s new home.

I can’t wait to see it being used, but I also can’t wait to see the trees I planted in the school grounds as a ten year old – I’ve been assured they are still there.